Tagged: kindle

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet will cost $200

Amazon's Kindle Fire

Though Bloomberg News actually beat Jeff Bezos to the punch, it’s now official: Amazon has launched their much-anticpated tablet, known as the Kindle Fire. It debuted today at a 7″ size and a $200 price point.

The unit is based on the same physical design as the BlackBerry PlayBook, but lacks a mic, camera and 3G. It’s multi-touch capabilities are also limited to two points of contact unlike Apple’s iPad which can recognize up to 10. The Kindle Fire will also include 30 days of Amazon Prime, a program that offers members free streaming music and video (in the U.S.) along with benefits such as reduced shipping rates on Amazon orders.

Among the Kindle Fire’s unique features are rapid web-page loading thanks to a technology that Amazon calls “Amazon Silk”. It’s their way of leveraging their considerable cloud-based infrastructure to handle some or all of the rendering processes required by a browser to display a web page. Depending on your settings, Silk can take over the web surfing experience or you can manage it all locally on your tablet.

In a similar vein, Amazon is taking their WhisperSync technology to its obvious next level: the Kindle Fire will let you bookmark where you are in any movie or TV show so that you can resume playback from that point, regardless of the device you’re using.

Kindle Touch

The new Kindle Touch

In addition to the Kindle Fire, Amazon is also introducing a new Kindle e-reader, known as the Kindle Touch. It uses the same infrared system as the Kobo Touch but incorporates an ambidextrous system for easy page turns. There’s also a cool feature called “X-Ray” which downloads additional material from Wikipedia along with your book so that on each page, you can pull up relevant information that helps you get more out of your read. The example shown was the Wikipedia entry on the Treaty of Versailles as it relates to the book Remains of the Day. The Kindle Touch is only $99, while a global 3G version will cost $149 (all prices in $USD).

$79 Kindle

The Kindle

Also new to the Kindle stable is a $109 version that once again features physical buttons (though no keyboard) and is smaller and lighter than the current 3rd generation Kindle. The new Kindles will all have “Special Offers” versions at lower prices. These feature local ads instead of the literary screen savers, which presumably help Amazon to get this new lower price point. This version of the Kindle is now known as simply “Kindle”, while the 3rd generation – the one with the physical keyboard – has been renamed the Kindle Keyboard. It also gets a new price point: $99 for the Wi-Fi only model.

Given the abundance of new models and prices, here’s a simplified cheat-sheet (all prices in $USD) – and yes, sadly no international availability for either the Fire or the Touch models as of today.

Kindle Fire
$199, Pre-order now, ships November 15th
U.S. orders only

$79 (with Special Offers)
$109 (without Special Offers)
Available now

Kindle Touch
$99 (with Special Offers)
$139 (without Special Offers)
Pre-order now, ships November 21st
U.S. orders only

Kindle Touch 3G
$149 (with Special Offers)
$189 (without Special Offers)
Pre-order now, ships November 21st
U.S. orders only

Confirmed: Amazon is launching an Android tablet

In the consumer tech world this year, there have been a few persistent rumours: An Apple television, the iPhone 5 and an Amazon tablet to compete with the iPad.

Today, one of those rumours has been put to rest. There will indeed be an Amazon tablet and TechCrunch.com blogger MG Siegler was fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with the device.

The good news for those who have been fearing that Amazon was simply going to launch a me-too device (as so many other companies have done with their uninspired Android tablets) is that they have boldly taken a different direction, at least as far as the operating system is concerned.

According to Siegler, although it is based on Google’s Android OS, the new Kindle (yes, it gets the same name as Amazon’s existing e-readers) has a user interface that is like no other implementation of Android that we’ve seen to-date.

The 7″ capacitive touchscreen unit which apparently bears a striking resemblance to RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, is running a completely overhauled version of Android 2.2.  The customization runs far deeper than other Android skins such as HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz. Even the Android Market has been stripped out in favour of – you guessed it – Amazon’s recently launched App Store.

For more details on the hardware side of the story, check out Siegler’s post. There aren’t any photos unfortunately, but his description tells the story of a capable, if bare-bones tablet that will not only make potential iPad buyers hesitate but should also set off alarm bells at places like Barnes and Noble and Sony.

What fascinates me about Amazon’s move into the tablet space is the way they have fused the hard work done by the Android team at Google with their own in-house design talent. Without having seen it, I’m already confident that Amazon has created a user experience that is consistent with their brand, and not something generic. Replacing the Android Market is not only a smart thing to do from a revenue point of view, it addresses one of the biggest critiques that has been leveled at Google’s app market – specifically a lack of oversight on which apps get approved and the significant security risks that have resulted from this easy-going policy.

You can bet that Amazon, much the same as Apple, will exert a great deal of control over their app store to avoid just this kind of situation.

So, will a $250 Amazon Kindle tablet take the tech world by storm? Will it finally present the iPad with some serious competition? Or will it merely cannibalize sales of their existing e-ink readers? Far too soon to tell. But it’s going to be a very interesting holiday season, don’t you think?


Amazon’s Kindle in Wi-Fi and 3G now available at The Source

If you haven’t already checked out a friend or family member’s Kindle, and have harboured an intense curiosity about how the e-reader from Amazon feels in your hand, or how its screen handles the display of text, today’s your lucky day.

That’s because The Source is the first retailer in Canada to stock the Kindle and odds are, you live within a few minutes of a Source location (they have over 700 locations across the country). You’ll find the Kindle at most locations except those in Quebec.

While you’re there, be sure to get a sales associate to pull out one the other e-readers the Source carries – say the Sony PRS650, or the Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro,  so you can compare them to the Kindle. The Sony and the Aluratek are great products, but I have a feeling that once you get your hands on a Kindle, you won’t want to put it down.

The Kindle’s pearl e-ink screen is easy on the eyes, and actually gets easier to read the brighter your environment which makes it the perfect outdoor companion this summer. Tablets are great and they can do so much – same with smart phones – but they have yet to create a tablet screen that handles sunlight as well as e-Ink.

I’m also a big fan of Amazon’s online bookstore and they way they’ve integrated it right into the Kindle. As soon as you’ve finished reading one book, you can immediately receive recommendations and have your next title sent to your device within minutes. It’s incredibly easy.

If there’s any downside to the Kindle, it’s the current lack of compatibility with lending libraries, at least in Canada. In the U.S., Amazon has a solution they are rolling out to enable library lending and with any luck, it won’t be long before that solution comes up here.

Pricing is $159 for the Wi-Fi only model and $209.99 for the Wi-Fi+3G model – which includes free 3G access for downloading books, magazines etc, in hundreds of countries. Interestingly, unlike the vast majority of the The Source’s product selection, the Kindle is only for sale in-store, not online.

If you’re still hunting around for that perfect Father’s Day gift, I highly recommend the Kindle. If, however, you can wait a little longer, the rumour mill is heavily favouring a price drop on the Kindle before the holidays.

Full Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada which also owns The Source

Sony drops Canadian prices on eReaders

PRS300S_fl_1The Sony Reader Pocket Edition is now $179, while the Touch Edition moves to $229.

This new pricing is part of a larger effort to make e-ink readers of all stripes more appealing to consumers, especially now that Apple’s iPad threatens to consume at least a portion of the potential users of these devices.

But I can tell you from personal experience, there really is no competition if reading books is what you like to do most.

The iPad is great, has a big, beautiful display and can accomplish a dizzying array of tasks with the right apps. But it’s heavy. I mean not “I can barely lift this thing” heavy, but more like “I’m getting a cramp after holding this thing for 30 minutes” heavy. As for reading in bed – forget about it.

eReaders, whether we’re talking about the Kindle, the Sony Reader, the Kobo or any other dedicated device are simply better for books.

Sony’s new pricing makes picking up one of these units more attractive than ever before. If you haven’t seen one in the flesh, I strongly encourage you to go check one out.

Amazon drops price on Kindle to $189 USD

kindleThe move won’t come as a surprise for many who have been watching the e-reader wars heating up over the last 6 months. With new players such as Apple’s record-breaking iPad and the value-priced Kobo, Amazon is obviously feeling pressure to stay relevant.

The price drop on the Kindle is noteworthy for two reasons: First, it closes the gap between Amazon, Sony and Kobo, all of whom are now in the sub-$200 category. It also makes the Kindle far more appealing given that feature for feature it still trumps these other devices.

Second, the new price likely indicates that a new model is on the horizon. Some are calling for this to happen as early as August. The current Kindle is now just under two years old so the timing is right for a refresh.

So should you take advantage of the price drop and jump on the ereader bandwagon? Or if you’ve already decided you want in on the e-reading platform, is the Kindle now the obvious choice?

Here are some things to consider:

– The Kobo Reader is easily the best value at $149 CDN. However it is a basic device – you can read books, PDFs and that’s pretty much it. Connectivity includes USB-to-PC and a Bluetooth option that requires a smartphone like the Blackberry. The included SD-card slot makes storage virtually unlimited. The Kobo is also the lightest device in its class, at 221 grams, largely thanks to its plastic case which may strike some as not quite robust enough for heavy use.

– The Sony Reader (Pocket Edition, now $199 CDN) matches the Kobo in terms of features  and weight (but lacks the Bluetooth and SD card slot options) yet it has a more solid construction. I find that that the Sony’s e-ink display is crisper than the Kobo’s which is odd given that they both use the same technology. This could simply be the difference in their choice of materials.

The Kindle ($189 USD) is still the most expensive – especially when you factor exchange rate and shipping. However it is packed with an impressive feature list that you won’t find on any of the other readers. The highlights are: Full QWERTY keyboard which can be used for annotating books and other publications, plus searching the contents of the device, a built-in 3G modem which gives you free wireless access to the Amazon book store. Books can be purchased and downloaded directly to the Kindle in under a minute. Text-to-speech capability means that the Kindle can actually read books aloud, so long as the publisher has enabled this for the title in question. However the Kindle is heavier than the other two (at 289 grams) and is not compatible with the ePub format, so you’re pretty much limited to what Amazon has in their bookstore. On the other hand, it does support MP3 and Audible audio files.

– The iPad is an amazing device, but despite what some have said, it is not an e-book killer. It has a beautiful colour screen, which is highly reflective and ends up getting smudged with finger prints. This combination makes it nearly unreadable in bright sunlight. iBooks is a very slick app, and books on the iPad look great, but the iPad itself is heavy and awkward to hold for any length of time. I can’t imagine trying to get comfortable reading a book on the iPad while you’re lying in bed.